Gender, Leadership and the Irangi Forest, Kenya
A Global Community Of People Wanting Change
We’re sure you saw it on the news. Last Friday the 20 September saw youth across the UK gather together as part of the Global Climate Strike. Championed and lead by 16 year old environmental activist Greta Thunberg, #FridaysForFuture calls students to protest for change.
Asking their governments, systems and seniors to be accountable for the future, demanding them to work towards creating a better one. Greta asks students to strike outside their town hall every Friday instead of going to school. But this Friday was different. This time it wasn’t just students that flocked to the streets. Greta called anyone who wished to stand in solidarity with the youth that face this future. Which is why we were there, Nicola and Jenny from ITF speak now about their experience at the Climate Strike in London, part of the largest environmental protest in history.
“Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future? What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientist are ignored by our politicians?”
– Greta Thunberg
With staff members striking in both Oxford and London we felt part of something big. And we were. A worldwide body of people from small towns to big cities, from London to Dhaka, Sydney to Rio. At ITF we prize our self on being a global community of people planting trees. We do it for people and we do it for planet. This time we were part of a global community of people protesting for trees and protesting for so much more than that. We were standing in solidarity not just with the youth of the UK, but with our community partners across Africa who’ve seen, first hand, the effects climate change has on the landscapes they rely upon.
People were calling for change. Big change.
Attitude, accountability and system change. And trees were not forgotten in the midst of that all. With so much recent Amazon press coverage and a powerful video about trees released by Greta just one day before the protest, the image of trees as life-givers and instruments of climate change combat were fresh in people’s minds.
We saw countless signs cry out for trees. Even people dressed as trees. It made us emotional, joyful, but fearful and even at times overwhelmed. 100,000 were said to gather at Milbank, just one of a few London based gatherings. But it wasn’t just the numbers that were powerful. It was the messages they carried, shouted, sung and spoke. Messages of terrifying truth and passionate concern from those so young.
At 1 PM the alarm was raised to draw attention to the crisis across the nation.
All around us, hundreds of thousands of smartphones, alarm clocks, whistles, sirens and fire alarms of local businesses rang out for a whole minute. It was overwhelming, moving and very loud. It was the wake-up call that was needed. There was a lot of build-up to this moment, and when it came, we had an overwhelming sense of support. It hit us that the work of ITF is not only needed but desperately wanted. It was very emotional for us and we felt we were there when the pendulum shifted in that 60 seconds of calling to action.
This alarm was intended to ring out at 1 PM in all respective countries across the world, millions of people, across world demand urgent action to save planet to the sound of the bell.
Two children spoke from the top of a London bus over the crowd right after, invited to amplify their voices as their country is seeing the effects already: Malawi.
Jessy Nkhoma, 18 and Isaac Mzembe, 17, lives have been devastated already.
They spoke of drought, disease, famine, flooding, and poverty and how if the government doesn’t act now the climate crisis can only cause hunger and poverty for those in the global south (to start with).
“I have come here to explain more about the effects of climate change in my country. During the drought, there is no water. Dried up pastures and crops leads to famine. In the floods, houses and infrastructures are washed away.” – Isaac Mzembe (inews)
“There is a big increase in temperatures, which creates favourable conditions for the breeding of mosquitoes, and malaria. So the government is having to spend a lot of money on medicines instead of funding development projects.” – Jessy Nkhoma (Oxfamblogs)
The youth of today are ready. They’re willing and primed to be part of the change. But they can’t do it on their own. They need people in power, people with more experience and expertise. And every one of us has our part to play.
What can you do for the youth that fears their future?
What can you do for their trees?
Co-written by Jenny Weld and Nicola Doyle
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
– Greek Proverb